Resume Tips: How to write a resumé in three European countries

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Did you know that …

…in France, the handwriting from your cover letter is often used for character analysis?

…in Sweden, your resumé should be signed by someone who can attest that what you wrote is true?

…in Canada, it is illegal for a prospective employer to ask your marital status, sexual orientation, race or age, or to request a photograph?

Needless to say, resumés can differ greatly between Canada and Europe.  Although this article outlines some of the differences between expectations of Canadian and European resumés, students should consult their university or college’s career centre to obtain resources geared more specifically to the country to which they are applying.  Most career centres or libraries will have resources such as The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas and The Global Resume and CV Guide.

As in most countries, a resumé includes your contact information, education, work experience, other skills (particularly, in Europe, language fluency), relevant volunteer activities or hobbies, and references.  The following are some of the differences between Canadian and European applications:

France

Job applications should be completed entirely in either French or English.  The handwriting from your one-page, handwritten cover letter may be used for character analysis.

A photograph is attached to the resumé, but there should not be any other enclosures.  You provide your name, address, telephone number, and email address.  Some suggest that you include your nationality, civil status, age (rather than date of birth), and number of children, but including this information is generally seen as optional.  As with most European countries, it is important to end your resumé with your special competencies, language skills (including spoken and written levels), computer skills, professional affiliations, and volunteer experience.

Spain

The application consists of a cover letter, resumé, and a small, quality photograph.  Copies of certificates, diplomas, and references are usually required later.  At the top of the resumé, include your name, place and date of birth, marital status, home address, and other contact information.  Under the education section, include not only information about schools, degrees, dates of attendance, and honours, but also levels of foreign language fluency, computer skills, and overseas travel or study experiences.

United Kingdom (England)

The application begins with a one-page, business-like, typed cover letter printed on quality white or ivory paper.  Be sure to address your cover letter to a specific person.

This letter is followed by a resumé of 2-3 pages, depending on your experience.  Include your name, address, contact information, birth date, marital status, and nationality.  If you’re a non-European Union citizen, include your work permit status.  After listing your professional designation, include your immediate ambitions.  Again, foreign language fluency should be added toward the end of your resume.

Additional resources

  • Europass provides templates to create your CV, language passport, etc.  It was established by European Parliament in 2004 as a single transparency framework for qualifications and competences.  Its aim is to make your skills and competencies clearly understood.
  • Going Global includes information about resumes, CVs, cover letters, popular places for jobs to be posted, etc. in several countries.
  • JobERA includes information about international resumes and CVs.
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About the author

Elizabeth Baisley is currently studying for an Master of Arts in Political Studies at Queen's University, where she works as a teaching assistant. She recently completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights & Human Diversity at Wilfrid Laurier University's Brantford campus. Elizabeth's academic interest in the rights of marginalized populations translates into her volunteer work and extracurricular involvement in the fields of rights advocacy, immigrant settlement, literacy, health, environmental issues, and local democracy. In September 2013, she will begin her PhD in Politics at Princeton University.